World Equestrian Center & US Federation Agree to Resolve Dispute Over Unsanctioned Competitions

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World Equestrian Center at Ocala, Florida that will host three international dressage events in 2021.

Dec. 30, 2020

The United States Equestrian Federation and World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida announced Wednesday an agreement to “work together” to resolve a dispute over unsanctioned competitions. The US agreed to withdraw a complaint to the International Equestrian Federation over the shows.

“USEF and WEC agree that it is in the best interest of the sport for them to work collaboratively,” the two parties said in a joint statement a week before the launch of the winter-long Ocala Winter Classic Spectacular of jumping and a national dressage show. The goal was to reach a solution “in the coming weeks.”

The WEC that has been built at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to become perhaps the most spectacular horse show facility in the world ran into problems with the USEF when the number of federation-approved shows were limited and the organizers turned to another body to approve competitions.

At risk for WEC were several FEI approved international jumping events including a Nations Cup. However, doubts were raised about the ability of the FEI to take action over unsanctioned events as a result of some significant European legal hurdles.

Formulating a plan to resolve issues, the statement said, “will require some time for both USEF and WEC to meet and consider what is best for equestrian sport and all of its stakeholders, while prioritizing horse and rider welfare and operating under the rules that govern all USEF organizers. 

“To allow time for that process to unfold, the USEF has withdrawn its request to the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) to declare the 2021 Ocala Winter Classic Spectacular unsanctioned and therefore riders, officials and horses may compete there this winter without being sanctioned by the FEI or USEF.

“Assuming development of a mutually agreed upon plan, WEC has agreed not to host any other new competitions that are not authorized by USEF.

“The USEF recognizes WEC’s existing relationship with NSBA (National Snaffle Bit Association) and that WEC will endeavor to include NSBA within such authorized competitions.

“In agreeing to this interim measure, the USEF considered how important it was for its members to have abundant competition opportunities this winter following a period during which many events were cancelled because of Covid-19.”